PBS at Testimony Meeting

This is an open thread for people to share any allusions from rank and file members to the PBS doc at today’s testimony meeting. I’ll get things started with a report from my own testimony meeting, from which I just returned.

I counted four allusions to the doc:

1. First was from a beautiful black woman who was baptized just last November. She moved to Chicago from Cameroon in 1985, which is when the Bears were tearing through the NFL, so she got a taste for American Football. Her favorite player, whom she greatly admired, was Steve Young, and she always told her son who also plays football to be like Steve Young. Later she learned that he was a descendant of BY and a Mormon. About five years ago, her cousin joined the Church, but she wasn’t ready at that time; last fall the timing was right for her.

Anyway, she said she wasn’t able to watch the doc, but her son did, and mentioned that there were a lot of “contradictions” about the Church in the program. She did read about it after the fact on the internet. She said the “contradictions” didn’t bother her at all, and her testimony of the Prophet was all the stronger.

(After the meeting I went up to her and told her that I too had a testimony of Steve Young, and we shared a good laugh over that.)

2. An older woman said she watched it with another LDS friend, and that they watched it with mixed emotions. Some things they thought the doc got right, and some not. There was no elaboration of which was which.

3. An older brother, the last one to speak during the meeting, which had run long, said that it is a misconception to say that Joseph started this Church. It is Jesus’ church; Joseph restored it. He said that not everyone understands that, and he added that not even all General Authorities do, but he needed to learn not to criticize. (It was unclear to what GAs he may have had reference.)

4. The conducting bishopric counselor then arose and said that the bishop had asked him to make a doctrinal clarification to the ward. And he took about two minutes to talk about polygamy. He explained that plural marriage was indeed practiced in the early days of the Church pursuant to revelation. We don’t know a lot about why it was practiced. He mentioned that one possibility he had thought about was to care for the widows, but he acknowledged that that was just his own thought. He explained that the practice had been formally ended in 1890 (twice he reported that it was Lorenzo Snow who had given the Manifesto–oops!), and that people are excommunicated today if they try to practice it. He also spoke briefly about development and change over time, and that such is to be expected and not a bad thing. (The example he gave was the cessation of animal sacrifices after the Atonement.)

It was fairly remarkable. It was a very simple statement, but it came over the pulpit to the entire ward at the bishop’s specific request. I personally feel our bishop was inspired in this, and this was a simple bit of inoculation that was really necessary given the large number of recent converts in our ward. No one was particularly bothered by this, but now everyone there knows that polygamy was practiced and advocated in the early days of the Church, and no one will be shocked to learn that from another source. So three cheers for my bishop.

OK, it’s your turn. What allusions were made to the doc in your testimony meeting? And if there were none at all, that fact in itself would be significant, I think. Tell us your stories.


  1. Three allusions – One by a memeber of the Bishopric, nuetralish, but not very specific at all – maybe a tiny bit negative. The other two speakers were neutral on the first night, overwhelmingly positive on the second.

    My good friend and I both thought it was a wonderful documentary, and we were a little concerned about how F&T meeting was going to go. Luckily, my ward is full of really smart and really amazing people (for the most part) and I think that most people that watched it liked it!

  2. No one in our suburban Utah ward even alluded to it in Sacrament Meeting. Most of our priests bore their testimonies. One said it had something to do with losing a bet on the Jazz game. The testimonies were very good anyway. They are a remarkable group. We were nothing like them 40 years ago.

    Toward the end of the High Priests lesson, the instructor asked how many watched the show, and about half raised their hands. He repeated one comments of Elder Jensen that tied into the lesson subject. That was it.

  3. No mention at all in my ward. More mention at the MTC (though the missionaries had not seen it). Branch president talked about our essential Christianity and gave advice on how missionaries might address the “Are Mormons Christians?” question. Otherwise, just some wonderful testimonies by missionaries headed to Ghana, Canada, Paris, and East India. We have an Elder Barney in our branch, Kevin. Any relation?

  4. Not much in F&T here, but in SS, the teacher mentioned several times, but with no specificity, about “lies” in “that program” we watched this week.

    No mention at all in RS.

  5. One older sister in our ward in Virginia got up and said that she watched part of it and called it “crummy,” and said that she didn’t like other people to define the church for her. A few minutes later a high school aged boy told about how this week one of his teachers who had watched it stopped him in the hall and asked him if Mormons are really bred from birth to be missionaries. I talked to the sister after sacrament meeting out in the hall and said to her “You didn’t like the show?” She replied somewhat sheepishly that maybe it wasn’t so bad if people are asking questions because if it.

  6. First, I asked about it in my Gospel Doctrine class, specifically whether non-members had brought it up. About 7 out of about 30 people in the class had had non-member friends or family bring it up. A couple of people had had substantive discussions already with people whose curiosity had been provoked. Another woman’s non-member mother had engaged her in hours long discussions after both shows.

    In F&T it came up about 5 times. One brother’s work colleague had badgered him about some of the controversial items. However, this same person had then said that the most moving point for him was when Elder Jensen described his speaking in German experience on his mission. The brother bearing his testimony saw this as the Spirit at work and was resolved to continue discussing the Gospel with this friend. Another sister testified that she came from any entirely inactive family, but that her very inactive older brother was so moved by the documentaries that he had called her to say that he had decided to start going to Church again and take his daughter with him.

    I may be reading more into it than these first impressions really support, but I was somewhat surprised to see that the non-member reactions seemed to be more curiosity or even positive interest than focusing on some of the negatives that bothered so many Church members. No one said anything about the controversial matters, but mine is a fairly well-educated ward, so I don’t think much of those issues was news to anyone.

  7. jothegrill says:

    No allusions to the PBS documentary in my ward, but we did have a testimony (from a grown man) about Spiderman 3.

  8. There were only allusians to the Documentary in my ward. It was almost like an inside joke really. As though they didn’t even have to watch it to know it was full of lies. I doubt more than a dozen members even watched it.

    I decided to take a few minutes at the beginning of my elders quorum lessen today to talk about it. Only one person (the visiting high councel) had seen the whole thing, and a couple of others had seen a little bit. Actually, the missionaries in our ward watched it. I encouraged everyone to watch it, and I read the public relations statement about it.

    It went ok, other than this one elder (the oldest in the quorum)added a warning about reading non-church publications about our history. It was a little maddening.

  9. anonon says:

    the final testimony packed a punch. a mom bearing testimony to her children that regardless of what anyone says, the church is true. awesome.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    Margaret, he’s probably not a close relation. I am not related to the Lewis Barney Mormon clan (from whom Ron Barney, the Church archivist, descends). My paternal line is Danish and was Stockfisch until a couple of brothers (who were criminals; bank robbers, I think) in Utah changed their surname to Barney. I wish I knew the story behind why they did this; my guess is that they didn’t want their crimes to bring a stain on the family name.

    A testimony about Spider-Man 3? Jo, that sound you just heard was Steve’s head exploding.

  11. Mark IV says:

    Nothing in testimony meeting. In priesthood, three guys said that co-workers this week had seen the documentary and asked questions about baptism for the dead and polygamy.

    Most of the teenagers in my Sunday School class had gone to the first showing of Spiderman 3 at midnight. They all give it a thumbs-down “because Spiderman goes all emo”. LOL.

  12. Ardis Parshall says:

    The only allusion in my SLC ward was mine — during our Relief Society “good news minute” I mentioned the huge increase in traffic at T&S, and that some apparently non-Mormon visitors had left positive comments or intelligent questions. I said that these non-Mormon viewers were better at overlooking the program’s errors than many of us Mormons were, and that we should trust people more. There was a murmur, whether of approval or disbelief I cannot tell, except that an older woman behind me leaned up to say “who was that Terryl Givens? I lovedlovedloved him!”

    Other than that, not the remotest reference.

  13. Peter LLC says:

    They all give it a thumbs-down “because Spiderman goes all emo”.

    So does he cut himself or something?

  14. I was in Primary, so I don’t know about any of the other meetings. But the only “allusion” was made by a visitor to the ward, who bore his testimony. He said that our testimonies are either growing or shrinking. If we notice that they are shrinking due to questioning or “anything we might see on the media,” we should pray more.

    I have not heard anyone else in Vernal say a word about the documentary.

  15. Julie M. Smith says:

    A boy of about 11 got up and said that he watched it and it confirmed to him how the church really was true and “everything rally does fit together.” I’d love to know what he meant by it, but he sounded very sincere and as if he had been genuinely touched by it.

  16. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    No one mentioned the PBS documentary in F&T but it did come up in Gospel Doctrine. The teacher (who apparently has a low opinion of PBS in general) was very negative about the show but admitted he’d only seen the last hour of the first broadcast; if all I’d seen had been the coverage of Mountain Meadows and polygamy I don’t think I’d’ve been too happy either. Fortunately a sister in the class stuck up for the broadcast, saying she’d seen the whole thing and in general found it to be positive.

  17. In F&T meeting, a man referred to the documentary as drawing different opinions from church members over whether it was a good thing, then he offered his opinion that he liked it and thought it was a manifestation of Joseph’s prophecy that his name would be had for good and bad in the world.

    In my Sunday School class, we skipped the John 9-10 lesson (even though Kevin’s commmentary has some good info on chapter 10). Instead, each class member spent 10 minutes sketching out an outline of what topics/events they would cover as a director of a documentary like The Mormons. Then we shared and discussed our choices.
    Then tonight, at our monthly study group, the documentary will be the evening’s topic.

  18. queuno says:

    We didn’t have any testimonies that really mentioned it, but our bishop taught GD today and in effect used it as an open forum to discuss people’s reactions to it.

  19. No mention in my ward other than my own, when I briefly mentioned in my testimony that it had created an opportunity to generate more debate on the issue and analyze our faith.

  20. I heard a brief comment during priesthood by someone expressing amazement that so much time was given over to “apostates” during the program. Also heard someone passing in the hall say something about the program being “disappointing” (a very popular reaction from Deseret News readers).

  21. We just had a huge stake production of Beauty and the Beast the last two weeks, so I think everyone was more caught up in that than the documentaries. Plus, we had a couple people who both took up nearly the entire time with their testimonies. Only one person mentioned the documentaries, and she only talked about Tal Bachman. She use to know him personally, was good friends growing up with his sister. She said seeing his comments on the documentary, it was like he was a completely different person from the man she’d known.

    I can’t speak for other meetings, I was in primary.

  22. Our bishop said it was good, but that members whose testimonies are weak might have struggled with it.

    A woman who has written several books about MMM and has very personal ties to it said that the more she has learned about the truth of what happened, the stronger her testimony of the gospel has become even though she had feared for her testimony when she started the research. She mentioned that it was hard to watch the MMM parts because of how personal it is to her. She also said she doesn’t think the church is trying to hide its history.

    Another woman said she watched ten minutes and turned it off because it made her feel awful. Then she listened to Conference and felt better and thought she would tell people to watch Conference instead of the doc if they wanted to learn about the church.

    None of my four-year-olds brought it up in Primary.

  23. My grandma had the Deseret news reaction–she was upset so much time was given to apostates.

  24. One guy had a wonderful testimony involving his dead brother, and he talked about how he found the quote from Harold Bloom at the end of part 2 to the effect of “no one conquers death like the Mormons” to be really powerful.

    Two women got up and talked about how many people were upset by the documentary, and how it was full of “untruths.”

    During the week my husband and I made a pact that if people talked about the doc negatively he had to get up and say something positive. So true to his word he got up and said he loved it, and that it didn’t matter if Joseph translated the BOM with a peepstone in a hat, it was still true. A few in the congregation laughed at that, which I interpret to mean that people thought he was kidding, and of course Joseph did not use a stone.

    Stirling what is your Sunday night study group?

  25. Wow, I’d say a full two-thirds of the testimonies borne included some mention of the documentary, including mine. The first testimony borne (after the bishopric member) was a lady who became firey and indignant about the doc. She’s well-known for giving passionate, yet odd-ball testimonies. She was quick to point out that OF COURSE President Hinckley knew about Hurricane Katrina and sent relief before it even happened…HE’S THE PROPHET!! (no mention, however, of the fact that meteorologists and New Orleans city officials knew what was going to happen before it happened as well)

    But aside from her it seemed like those that mentioned it only mentioned it as a jumping off point to bear their testimony, not to make a statement on the doc itself. I didn’t mind so many people mentioning it becuase it means that people watched it and these things are on people’s minds…and that’s a good thing, IMO.

  26. Brandon says:

    There were a few mentions in testimony meeting in my ward this afternoon, all three of the members did not care for the documentary, one even said that he turned it off, when polygamy was being discussed. During Priesthood, we spent the time talking about a few of the items that were discussed in the documentary: Polygamy & the Mountain Meadows. It surprised me how our church is defined by the prior practice of Polygamy over 100 – years ago. The other thing that surprised me was that there were members of the priesthood in my ward, that had never heard about the Mountain Meadows. I for one am anxiously awaiting the upcoming book that will be released later this year. This book was written by Walker, Leonard, & Turley.

  27. In my ward which is about 40% students in hard sciences, 5 testimonies mentioned it explicitly. 4 of them were tinged with defensiveness and/or a little anti-intellectualist comments, something I found odd coming from PhD students.

  28. Natasha says:

    2 mentions were made: One young woman, married, mid 20s was clearly very disturbed the history section but felt that she had resolved her concerns by reaffirming her faith by reading P. Hinckley’s testimony afterward.

    Another woman spoke of how prayer afterward had given her peace because she had been afraid that it would scare people away from the church.

  29. Thomas Parkin says:

    #7: Spiderman three quotes Howard W Hunter in regard to how to treat your wife, and the Primary manual re: we always have a choice and should choose the right. My testimony was strengthened watching Spiderman 3. It was the least effective of the 3 Spidermans, though.

    #12: Ardis, that is my observation, as well. Non-members have an easier time processing some controveries than we (collectively) do. No doubt with less at stake emotionally, it is easier to be dispassionate.

    #13: heh

    #24: I didn’t take the time to watch the program, but would have sat through the whole thing if I knew Harold Bloom was going to make that comment. I love Harold Bloom, even if he can be a bit over the top in his pronouncements.

    Some fine comments from the 1st Counselor that didn’t mention the documentary, but may have been inspired by it. Something about learning being a matter of discovery rather than finding material for debate.

    Two testimonies: one rather negative towards the program, in the context of a about ‘distortions’ in historical record, which no doubt is so, if not maliciously so. The second, not entirely positive, but affirming that watching had been a positive experience for his faith.

    Also some very neutral discussion in Ward Council.


  30. It was mentioned once, by a sister who was “heartsick” after seeing it. So after the testimonies, a member of our ward who is our stake PR guy got up and said that the church authorities were happy with it, that we aren’t all going to be happy with with something produced outside of the church, and that if the media achieves 50% accuracy, we should be happy. He encouraged members to appreciate all the good things included in the program. I thought it was very well done, and accurate as well. Not many in my ward saw the program.

  31. Interesting testimony in our ward (Parker, CO). One sister had posted a comment on the PBS website after watching the first two-hour broadcast. The next day, she got a call from someone in Seattle who had seen her comment and tracked her down (she said that made her a bit nervous), but then proceeded to ask her about the Church and about her own testimony.

    My own grade is a B; I’ve got comments over on my blog (http://adventures-in-mormonism.com). ..bruce..

  32. Randy B. says:

    The documentary got mentioned in all three hours in my ward, starting with the bishopric member at the start of fast and testimony meeting. As near as I could tell (over the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth of our two youngest), no one mentioned having strong negative reactions. Several mentioned that they had watched the documentary and that it strengthened their testimony (no explanation as to why). Others mentioned that they disagreed with some of what was said but were glad it was not worse. (Someone privately that at least it wasn’t a “60 Minutes hatchet job.”) Frankly, I was expecting fireworks, but they never materialized. A good day overall.

  33. Brooke says:

    I loved the opening testimony in our branch. The guy leading the meeting (who is a convert of about 5 years) said he found it interesting that there are going to be members who hate the doc, members who love it, anti-Mormons who hate it (too nice to the church) and anti-Mormons who love it. I wish I could remember exactly how he put his point but he then went on to say how, just as everyone has different reactions to the same documentary, everyone uses different methods to strengthen our testimonies (he loves history and academics–his wife does more the touchy feely) but that we all have testimonies of the same underlying principles-our relationship with God, etc. He also pointed out the value of honest open discussion–and used the example of how his own (non-LDS) family watched the show, which then prompted some valuable discussions leading them to a better understanding of his new religion, warts and all.

  34. 41 Stakes Conference regional broadcast from SLC – Needless to say, no mention by Elder Packer or President Hinckley. I’ll be in two wards next week, so I will let you know if I hear anything then.

  35. Latter-day guy says:

    In my ward, not too much was said. In my home ward, evidently my Grandma HATED it. She only likes to get her Church History if it has passed correlation ;-). I liked it and thought it was quite fair overall.

  36. lamonte says:

    The bishopric counselor conducting the meeting in our ward mentioned it and had generally positive comments but no one else said a word (I didn’t bear my testimony today). I sat with a new convert in Gospel Essentials and I stated positive feelings about the church’s attempts to be more open about our history – even the messy parts. I didn’t get a lot of positive reinforcement for those comments, however. Some other, off the cuff, comments I heard from others at church was that most felt it was too negative.

    By the way Kevin, I watched the UTAH NOW presentation that you linked us to in your other post and enjoyed the conversation very much. Thanks for posting that.

  37. Just one in our ward.

    One sister said she watched it and some of the things that were said caused her to kneel in prayer later and ask God if Joseph Smith really saw what he said he saw.

    I never saw the presentation, so I do not know what it was to which she referred.

  38. Matt W. says:

    Multiple mentions in my ward. Nothing too terrible. It was one of our best F&T meetings in a long time.

    More importantly, my brother-in-law (not a member) called me and asked if the lds church had paid off PBS to make such a positive film…

  39. Someone mentioned something about it in F&T meeting. No othe mentions. I didn’t watch it, and haven’t heard anyone at all discuess it. I don’t think I’d be shocked by anything in church history, having studied a good amount of it. I’d like to think my threshold for church weirdness is pretty high. Maybe it’s me, but I really haven’t even really cared about the documentary. Might as well not deny our past. It’s who we are. In Davis County, Utah.

  40. Jessawhy says:

    A sister in RS bore her testimony and included a bit about the “intellectuals” and how she must not be one, because she doesn’t question the church. Then she said something that I’m still puzzling over. “We shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Although I’ve heard this cliche before, I’m not exactly sure what she meant by it, and to me, it almost undermined her testimony. Was she saying the gospel is a gift, so let’s not examine it closely? Or, it’s good enough, let’s not look any closer? Very strange, in the context of the testimony. (my mother thought she had just used the phrase incorrectly and probably meant something else entirely).

  41. I think your guess is right on, Jessawhy: the gospel is a gift, let’s not examine it too closely.” That seems to fit the context of what she was saying as you described it.

    She’s wrong of course. Though the gospel is a great gift, we are actually commanded to study and search it closely. Her view is not an uncommon one for members who don’t want to know the details because they are afraid of what they might find.

  42. No mention in our suburban Virginia F/T meeting, although a brother who had recently suffered a tragic loss in his family kind of monopolized the time. (I didn’t begrudge him at all–if our ward could support him by listening to him for 20 minutes, I was happy to help.)

    Brief mention in Sunday School–a sister mentioned that her kids watched the documentary for 10 minutes and felt that it drove the spirit away, so they quit watching.

    A (Mormon) visitor mentioned it in Priesthood, and we chatted about it afterward.

  43. David Grua says:

    No mention at all of the documentary in my BYU ward.

  44. no mention over here, but this is Australia and i had to get it off the net to watch it :P

  45. Just one in our ward. He used his clear dislike as the intro to his testimony, then talked about his reactivation and bore a nice testimony of the Gospel. The bulk of his testimony didn’t tie in, however, to his dislike of the documentary.

  46. It’s good to see Virginia Mormons represent! My ward only had two or mentions of it in F&T, and that’s including my own testimony(both were neutral. I really liked the documentary, personally, but didn’t feel it was necessary to say anything either way during the testimony).

    I had thought that there would have been a lot more talk about it, seeing as how they came to our ward to film some of the documentary. I’m sure G&D was all abuzz, but I was busy with Temple Prep class(truly a shame, as my ward has the BEST G&D classes I’ve ever been to).

  47. In Sturgis Michigan it was mentioned in nearly every testimony. A formere RS presidet started out by saying it was the most disgusting drivel she had ever seen. The bishopric councilor said something like – the church is true regardless of what PBS says. Another member said they could not believe that PBS would broadcast such a terrible thing. Much of the who’s who of our ward hated it and are outraged.

  48. Last Lemming says:

    We had stake conference with Elder Scott. He did not mention the documentary by name, but stated that we could expect to hear increasing criticism of Joseph Smith. He then allowed as how there were thing that happened in Joseph Smith’s life that he did not understand, which I took to be an implicit acknowledgment that at least of some of the forthcoming criticism would have some basis in fact. He then proceeded to bear his testimony of various aspects of Joseph’s prophetic mission.

    As for the MMM segment of the documentary, I fear that after September Dawn hits the theaters, we may be begging people to watch the PBS segment to give them the context that September Dawn is apparently lacking.

  49. Dan Y. says:

    I was in the stake conference visited by Elder Scott. Besides the implicit nod to the program noted by Last Lemming, Elder Scott invited comments from the congregation as to what they might say to Joseph Smith if they were to meet him in the next life. At the time, I thought that this might, in part, be an opening for people to express thoughts on the documentary, but no one did. In retrospect, his invitation was probably just a warmup for his subsequent invitation for us to think about what we might say to the Savior in similar circumstances.

  50. Before church, one ward auxillary leader told me he used to think the worst persecution of the church was in the 19th century, but now he knows that today is even worse. He referred to PBS’ liberal secular bias, and berated the lies and blasphemies that the documentary showed.

    I strongly objected and asked him to give me some examples. He said that one person spoke as if the church “invented” baptism for the dead, and he was outraged that PBS did not bother to explain that this was a common early Christian practice. His only other specific critisism was that there were only a couple of church members shown in the whole program. When I pointed out that many of the talking heads were faithful church members, he seemed skeptical.

    I told him that the a response on the church website called the program “thought provoking” and “forthright,” avoiding stereotypes and giving serious treatment to a serious subject. He said none of that was true. I (very facetiously) asked if he was disagreeing with the church’s statement. He replied that he didn’t believe they said the things I told him.

    This brother later talked about the documentary in testimony meeting, but he toned his comments down a little.

  51. lamonte says:

    There’s the old saying that “you must be doing something right because both sides hate you” or something to that effect. As was mentioned above, I thought the comments from Ken Verdoia were interesting in that KUED had received equal amounts of comments claiming the PBS program was either too favorable or too critical of the church. And the comments from CE above, I think, were indicative of many chruch members feelings while many, myself included, thought the program was well done, but perhaps was lacking in some areas. I was interested in professor Robert Goldberg’s comments on the UTAH NOW follow-up discussion how Mormons and Jews both seem to have a bunker mentality when it comes to discussing their faith – in other words they are usually just waiting for the hammer to drop when the subject of their religion comes up. IMHO, too many church members have taken that attitude when it comes to the PBS program instead of welcoming an open discussion about church hitstory with all of its warts.

  52. Kimberly says:

    I agree with #49. The PBS special gave context to Mountain Meadows, which certainly did not absolve those responsible, but it did provide some understanding for the complex dynamic that led to the tragedy. From what I have heard about September Dawn, the movie will not provide such context. It also will not state, as the harshest critics on the PBS documentary stated, that it is unclear whether President Young had any involvement in the tragedy other than attempting to conceal it. Apparently, the movie asserts that Brigham Young ordered the massacre. Most importantly, the PBS documentary included Elder Oaks statement acknowledging the complicity of local church leaders and his sorrow for the event. The film is being marketed as revealing an event for which the church refuses to acknowledge or apologize.

  53. Norbert says:

    Way out here in Finland, we had a mention, too! A member had been in the US last week and had seen it. He was beaming about it, and saying how great it would be if it were shown here. Later I asked him about the negative sides of it, and the response of some members to it. He said it was not like a missionary film, but people outside of the church don’t believe that stuff anyway. And it was ten times more positive than the average high school religion class presentation of the church.

  54. Nothing came up in our F&T meeting, but the Elder’s Quorum President used all of quorum meeting to discuss it. Overall, positive. I noted that our QP called MMM the “Meadow Mountain Massacre”. I think that is telling in how much folks really know about this event in Mormon history. And I agree that I think it might be helpful in balancing the upcoming movie…

  55. A single mention in our F&T meeting. A brother spoke disapprovingly about how he didn’t need to watch programs that lied about church history to know they were evil. He said Legacy was a much better way to learn more about church history (bleagh). I have a feeling there aren’t many PBS-watchers in my ward.

    I did catch the first counselor rolling his eyes during this guys testimony, he looked pretty sheepish when he realized I had seen him do it. I chuckled.

    Don’t know about the rest of the meetings, we skipped out to go to a baby blessing.

  56. I think I am the only guy who had any positive feelings about the Show that I talked to yesterday.

    It got a thumbs down from…

    My wife
    My father and mother in law
    My sister in law and hubby
    Bishopric member
    5-6 other members

    The common complaint seemed to be about balance. To much time on MMM and polygamy. to many ex members etc.

    I think we escaped pretty well. It could have been much worse

  57. I think this was a warm-up for the kinds of things we’re going to hear as other Republican candidates try to take out Romney.

  58. old so&so says:

    Nothing said in our ward here in Carson City,NV

  59. Melanie says:

    There were 2 really defensive tesimonies of it, 1 “I thought it was ok” and one who clarified the concerns of a non-member coworker.

    I was just grateful none of our crazy regulars disturbed the spirit of the meeting as they usually do… it was incredibly refreshing.

  60. Jordan F. says:

    In my ward, I was very surprised to hear two testimonies directed fully towards the documentary. Both people had very negative reactions to it. Personally, I think simply sharing a testimony of the Savior and his restored gospel would have been better than reacting negatively to this documentary on the pulpit.

  61. Jordan F. says:

    Oh, and one of those people also basically said that the documentary was obviously a tool of Satan to disturb Mitt Romney’s candidacy…

  62. Timburriaquito says:

    In our ward in San Diego there was only 1 mention in FT meeting by the Bishop who was conducting. He didn’t like it. He said he was watching it with his son, and at different times his son would turn to him and say “is that true, Dad?” and the Bishop would respond back, “no.” He then said that if he wanted to learn more about Catholics, he’d ask a Catholic, and he didn’t understand why people would not ask a Mormon to learn about Mormons.

    Also, in Gospel Doctrine, the well respected former Stake President and currnet Stake Patriarch made the comment that he didn’t see it because he was “tipped off” that it would be bad. I was realy saddened by those comments. It’s almost like there is an honor in being a persecuted community, even in the 21st century today. Personally, I liked it and agree with the lds.org statement about it, that it was overall a positive even with the uncomfortable bits of our history and the interviews with disaffected members.

  63. I attended a friend’s ward in Laurel, Maryland and an older gentleman who bore one of the last testimonies got up and said how grateful he was that most Church members didn’t watch or listen to liberal secular media outlets like PBS and NPR (not sure how NPR got thrown in there for this… guilt by association?). He said he thought the airing of the documentary was a tragedy because it failed to catch the “essence” of the Gospel and simply gave a forum for critics to attack the Church through what some might see as a “legitimate” program. What surprised me was not only the depth of his dislike for the documentary, but his clear assumption that everyone else no doubt agreed with him about how terrible it was.

  64. Kevinf says:

    Only one comment in our ward F&T, by a brother who also gave a nod to Romney, and said that we all need to have our testimonies strengthened so we can answer questions.

    Most of the rest of our meeting were testimonies relating to the missionary from SLC that died from a bike accident this week in Washington State. He had been serving in our ward for several months, and had only transferred out two weeks ago. A very sad occasion, as we had grown to love him.

  65. Not a single comment! (OK it was fundraising week and the American Experience and Frontline will air in a couple weeks in our local PBS viewing area–but I’ll respond again next month!)

  66. Jose, same here. I wrote them a mean email showing my discontent and they emailed back saying they’d show it at the end of May. I wanted to email back and say don’t you understand? The blogs will be crazy with this and you’re telling me to wait til the end of May? I watched it a day behind online.

    Another thing, I was in the library today and happened to notice the Ken Burns PBS special on the Shakers and you know what he called them? The most misunderstood religion in America! Wha?!? That’s our title. Ken Jerk Burns. I googled it and apparently we share our title with Shakers, Scientologists, Witches, Wiccan and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  67. Perhaps a better description of the Shakers would be “The most misunderstood religion with fewer than ten living members in America.”

  68. Three or four mentions in F&T meeting, and the first 20 minutes of gospel doctrine devoted to an open discussion of our reactions. Most comments were very positive–speaking of the missionary opportunities provided by the documentary, etc.

  69. Razorfish says:

    We had 2 references made in F&T meeting. In both instances, the speaker was disappointed in the how the Church was portrayed.

    What I found interesting in inquiring feedback from the documentary was that the more super orthodox you were, the more likely you were offended by the documentary. That is the more simplistic and correlated view of Church history you held, the more likely you were to be upset.

    In High Council, a high council member expressed the opinion, “they did a real hatchet job on Joseph Smith the first night.”

    I did note different reactions and opinions though.
    Conversly, the more familiar you were with non-correlated Church history (RSR, No Man Knows MY History, Sunstone, Dialogue, etc), the more likely you were to appreciate the documentary and its presentation.

    I belive our personal reaction to the PBS documentary is telling in defining our own testimony, worldview, and relative security or insecurity we have in assimilating historical details into the mosaic that paints the picture of our collective Mormon history.

  70. Tanya Spackman says:

    Not a single mention in my ward, at least during F&T meeting (I missed RS and SS because I’m elsewhere during those hours, so I don’t know if it got a mention there).

  71. Hi guys, this past Sunday many in my church family asked if I had watched the PBS special. Obviously, many of them don’t read my blog . . . the stinkers. :)

    Anyway, there seems to be a lot of discussion opportunity that could take place. I have been out camping with my family late yesterday afternoon and then overnight; but coming back to BCC now, I noticed another recent thread has been closed. I will pick up on Steve’s suggestion. Thanks.

  72. No mention of it in my BYU student ward until towards the end of the meeting. One of the guys in my ward talked about how he was disappointed by it and didn’t feel that it got to the real reasons why we do and feel the things we do. He used as an example a part of the movie that seemed to say that Mormons are generally happy because of the emphasis the church places on dancing. His testimony basically was along the lines of “those who aren’t in the church just can’t understand us” and “even though other people portray our faith as being based in an emotional response, I know that the spirit works different than that.” A couple of other people made passing references to the documentary, but most of these were along the same lines.

    I get the general sense that everyone in my ward either 1) didn’t see it (such as myself), or 2) wasn’t impressed by it. One sister that I home taught last semester specifically said that she was disappointed how the movie portrayed The Book of Mormon as a product of the 19th century. A lot of people felt that it was good that it delt with the controversies, but felt that it gave too much attention to them and not enough attention to other things.

  73. Todd-I posted this on your website, but just so you know, the other post was closed at my request. I felt it had gone as far as it needed to. But I am very happy to become familiar with you and your Idaho Falls church (which I do plan to visit), and to continue conversation on your website.
    I find that when blog conversations go beyond 100 or more comments, they get a little circular.

  74. ElGuapo says:

    I went to two sacrament meetings in the Salt Lake area. The documentary was mentioned once in each. The first lady to speak mentioned she watched the PBS documentary, it caused her to ask what she really knows, the Spirit trumps all, no matter how they “spin it.” One older guy mentioned midway through his testimony that he’d watched it, and it might cause people to ask us about our faith. Not another word either hour.

    One of two things seems to be happening: either it was a complete non-event to LDS faithful, or they’re waiting for someone to tell them what they think about it.

  75. My wife and I talked about it with another couple in our ward for about 5 minutes (out of 2 hours) on the drive back from the temple. I was interested in how they would react, since they were some of the pioneer members of the church here in Cincinnati (joined as a couple 46 years ago), they are VERY conservative politically, and he is a former bishop and was just released as the ward mission leader. They thought it showed an underlying bias, but they both were pleased overall with it.


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